“How do I know you?”, Callie asks, peering at me intently. She wants me to travel back in time with her to find out, but I feel reluctant. This isn’t about me, I thought. In fact, I don’t want it to be about me.
Do it, says Spirit. You will learn things about yourself.
Don’t do it, says the Hermit Crab in me, who simply wants to be left in peace. Why does everyone want to be friends with me?, the Hermit whined.
Callie understands my reluctance. “No pressure.”
But it is pressure, especially when my guides are encouraging me to jump. So I jump.
A great gush of water spurts up from the ground beside me. I am surprised and delighted. There are hot springs around me, bubbling and gurgling, with steam rising up of the water in great clouds that tickle my nose. It smells a bit sulphurous. I can see tress… conifers? The air is cool, aside from hot currents that run over me from the hot pools. An eagle soars above and I admire it’s flight.
My awareness soars outwards and I realise I am on a stretcher, being dragged by Callie, who is now a man. I’m struggling to breathe. There is something wrong with my lungs and a sharp aching pain in my left flank. I reach my hand down and can feel the arrow still embedded there. I’m frightened and exhausted. I don’t think I can live through this.
I doze in and out of consciousness. I don’t know where I’m being taken, or why this man has collected me from the field. Surely I am beyond saving. But I am too tired to wonder about his intentions. Every now and then I hear him talking. He mutters crossly to himself, and maybe to me, about the futility of war and the awful waste of perfectly good life. Sometimes his voice changes, softening with love and awe as he talks about the beauty of life; the way a trout leaps from the water, the majesty of a hawk as it swoops and the glorious sound of the wind whispering through the trees.
Sometimes he looks at my wound but he doesn’t touch it.
The ground has become bumpier and I am wincing in pain, finding it so hard to breathe. It is impossible to retreat into the bliss of sleep and I wish he would just stop and let me die, but he keep going. If only I had the strength to roll off this damn stretcher.
I can smell a different smell now, the smell of fire and the scent of burned leaves. The movement finally stops and I am laid flat. A large face looks over me. He has feathers in his hair and that particularly look about his eyes that all healers have.
“You are mine”, he says, and the words burn through my chest like fire.
Together, the two men lift me off the stretcher onto a mat on the ground. The healer looks to the man who carried me and says “I’ve been waiting for this one. Thank you for your delivery.” The man who carried me looks puzzled for a moment then shrugs as though the mystery is beyond him and not worth troubling his mind over. He turns to me and smiles, putting a hand gently on my right shoulder.
“You will be fine” he says, and then he gathers his pack and walks away, heading back into the trees, back the way we came. I want to scream at him not to leave me here. I am terrified of this man with the strange eyes who tells me I am his. Something in me knows I am being claimed as an apprentice and I will never see my family again. I just want to go home and be with my people.
“Peace, little one”, says the healer, putting his hands softly over me eyes. He sings softly to me as I cry myself to sleep in this strange place that is so far from my home.
When I awake, the arrow is gone and I can breathe again. It still hurts a little on the deeper breaths, but I realise in this moment that I am going to live. The man who carried me knew, somehow, that I would be fine.
I look around me and can see the healer. He is doing something with his hands. As my eyes focus I can see he is mending a shirt and with a fresh flood of panic and tears, I realise it is my shirt. A blanket covers me but I still wrap my arms gingerly and protectively over my naked breasts. I can see the muscles working in his shoulders, the wide girth of them and the thick bundled muscles in his legs. He is strong. I am small. But perhaps I am faster.
He looks up at me. For a while we just look at each other.
“I know you don’t want to be here. But you are meant to be here. The spirits have brought you to me. First in a dream and now here you are. You are the one I have been waiting for.”
He moves to stoke the fire and stirs something in a cup or bowl. Then he picks it up and brings it to me. The smell confuses me, just like his words do. I recoil from the sharpness of the scent and yet there is something strangely alluring about it too. I can almost feel my body reaching out for it as though hungry for it. I wriggle myself a little more upright and reach out with one hand.
He smiles. My hand stops in mid reach. I am frozen and uncertain, confused about why I am trusting him. I know he is a healer but I also feel trapped. I know he is healing me but he won’t let me go home.
He puts the cup down, placing it well away from me, and something in me is disappointed. He looks deeply into my eyes, the smile on his face dissolving into seriousness and concern.
“You can’t go back, little one. You are dead to them and they are dead to you. That is enough. No more of that life. This is your life now. Spirit will show you. Be patient.”
I am angry with him and I roll over, turning my back to him. When I am better I will escape and go home.
I get better and my strength builds. The food he teaches me how to prepare and the herbs he gives me make me feel so good. I have never felt so well. Days pass, one into the other and every day I say I will go home tomorrow. But I don’t. I am learning so much they never taught me back home. So much I was never allowed to learn because I am a woman. He is kind and patient and I enjoy returning the kindness to him, with my help around the hut.
He teaches me a strange dance, a fighter’s slow dance. I enjoy feeling the new power in my body. He also teaches me about silence and how to listen to nature. There is so much beauty here.
Perhaps I will stay. At least for a bit longer.
“We have been separated, drawn apart in many lifetimes before our bonding was complete. My energy body has medicine for you, and yours has medicine for mine.
I cannot be complete as a teacher until I have completed an ancient promise.
I cannot be complete as a teacher until I teach you.
I refuse to let you run in fear from All That You Are. I will not let you live that life.
Stay here with me and I will show you how beautiful your soul is, that you may know yourself, and know me as we once knew each other in a different time.
The love between us is ancient and deep. It is the love of nature for nature. We are at One when we are in this place, learning from and with one another, in the heart of nature.
I know you want me to set you free, but I tried that and it didn’t work. You have lost yourself and your idea of freedom is not freedom. I cannot bear to see you do this to yourself. I will not live without your freedom gracing my life and lifting my own heart to soar. So if this feels like prison to you I am sorry, but love you I must. Teach you I must. It is the only way for us both to know the One.”
“I am sorry Great Spirit, embodied in you as my teacher, that I have been fighting you for so long. I am simply frightened of myself. I am afraid to go home. I am afraid that I am not all I remember and dreamt that I was. And I am scared to leave and abandon the others. But I cannot live like this, stretched painfully across this chasm between you and them. I must let go and fall into your arms, knowing that I abandon no one when I liberate myself.
I am in so much pain right now. You have reached out to me and I feel sad that I am not reaching out to others. Please help me with this pain!”
“Let it go unto me my child. Let me absorb and dissolve it for you and for them. The love between us creates a Oneness that seeps across the land, healing all in its path. Surrender yourself unto me and our wholeness will be the greatest bridge of love and rescue and kindness that you could ever extend unto anyone. I am you. You are me. We are One. So mote it Be.”
I am at peace. Floating. There is a great light all around me and yet a massive emptiness or darkness too. But it doesn’t feel bad… it feels like the universe, filled with stars of hope and possibility. I feel like I am embracing myself and letting go of everyone else and yet somehow, we are all coming together as One.